What casts this shadow?

The stiff winter wind, the rancid smell of the woods, the meager light of a crescent moon. The labored breath of a shadow.

It had been close, this time. She had barely made it in time. Now, she leaned against a tree, exhausted.

Chaos and confusion could be heard in the distant town, where little specks of torchlight danced around frantically. Another had fallen to her blade. Another name had been struck off her endless list. He had been a priest and in those days of religious uncertainty, they were heavily guarded. But what good are guards against a shadow?

A sudden burst of energy flowed through her, renewing her strength. Her offering had been accepted. She set off again, her eyes pinned on her next target. How many had she killed? She didn’t remember. In fact, her own name had faded from her memory. Was her sister still alive? Her mistress had promised life for her sister as long as blood was spilled in her name. That was centuries ago. She was a mere human back when she signed the contract. Was there any meaning left to her endless mission?

It didn’t matter, not anymore. It was all she knew, now. She had become death itself.

The mistress sat in a pristine garden, bathed in sunlight. A small fountain bubbled beside her. A book lay open before her, but she seemed distracted. She stared intently at the fountain, as if waiting for something. The water flashed red for a brief moment and a sad smile tugged at her lips.

“Did she succeed?”, came a little voice behind her.

“She dares not fail”, returned the mistress, as the little girl took a seat beside the mistress. “Wouldn’t you like to see her again?”

“I strive to wrest this world from the clutches of the gods,” said the girl, glaring into the fountain, “if she survives long enough, I will. Until then, do as you are told.”

The mistress nodded, sorrowfully, as the fountain flashed red again and with it, the girl’s eyes.

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